Your Unfailing Love
(12) Yet God (is) my king from of old, accomplishing salvation in the midst of the earth. (13) You divided the sea by your power. You broke the heads of the monsters in the waters. (14) You crushed the heads of Leviathan and gave him as food to the wilderness dwellers. (15) You broke open springs and torrents. You dried up ever-flowing rivers. (16) To you (belongs) the day. Yours also (is) the night. You fixed in place the moon and the sun. (17) You established all the boundaries of the earth. You created summer and winter. (18) Remember this that the enemy scoffs, Yahweh, and that a foolish people spurn your name. (19) Do not hand over the life of your dove to wild beasts. Do not forget the lives of your afflicted ones forever. (20) Have regard for the covenant, for the dark places of the land are full of pockets of violence. (21) Do not let the oppressed turn back humiliated. May the poor and needy praise your name. (22) Arise, God! Contend for your cause! Remember how the foolish scoff at you all the day. (23) Do not forget the clamor of your foes, the uproar of those who rise up against you steadily increasing.
The most notable repetition in this second half of the psalm is the constant use of the second person singular, translated by the pronoun “you,” at the beginning of verses 13, 14, 15, & 17 as well as in the middle of verses 15, 16 & 17. In this way, Asaph addresses God directly and personally, recalling God’s mighty acts of creation in forming the great sea (vss. 13-15) and in establishing the heavens and the earth (vss. 16 & 17).
Several other repetitions are found in these verses: “heads” (vss. 13 & 14), “earth” (vss. 12 & 17), “scoff” and “spurn your name” (vs. 18, both repeated from vs. 10) and “scoff” (used again in vs. 22). “Forever” (vs. 19) is a repetition of the same word used earlier (vs. 10). We find three synonyms for the downtrodden: “oppressed,” “poor,” and “needy” (vs. 21). We also observe three more synonymous verbs as Asaph makes his appeal to God: “have regard,” “remember,” and “don’t forget” (vss. 20-23).
I. Recalling God’s mighty works in creation (12-17)
- the creation of the seas (12-15)
- the creation of the heavens and the earth (16 & 17)
II. Relying on God to defend us against our enemies (18-23)
When we recall God’s mighty acts in creation, we receive confidence to trust him to defend us against our enemies.
In 1985, Steve McEwan composed a worship song that has been sung the world over, a song that captures the essence of this second half of Psalm 74: “Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise, / the city of our God, the holy place, / the joy of the whole earth; // Great is the Lord in whom we have the victory; / he aids us against the enemy; / we bow down on our knees. // And Lord, we want to lift your name on high; / and Lord, we want to thank you / for the works you've done in our lives; // And Lord, we trust in your unfailing love, / For you alone are God eternal, throughout earth and heaven above.”
As we contemplate the message of the psalm reflected in this song, our hearts should be drawn in two directions. First, we should remember the greatness of our God, particularly in creating the world and everything in it including us, those made in his image. Then, we should remember that we can unreservedly rely on his irresistible power and unfailing love to defend us and enable us to face whatever problems or difficulties we may encounter.